10 of my Favourite Mother-Daughter Relationships in Children's Books

Karen McCombie, author of the OMG blog
Category: Reading

Cover of the OMG Blog! by Karen McCombie
I adored my mum. She was tiny (my ‘mini’-mum) but strong, and always calm and sensible in the face of me flipping out over friendship or love wobbles. Better yet, she never blinked an eye over the ‘interesting’ fashion experiments of my teens. Maybe it’s because of my pretty fantastic relationship with Mum that I’ve written a whole bunch of mother-and-daughter-centric books, from the best-selling Ally’s World series (with the kooky, AWOL Mrs Love) to the collection of irritating/interfering/plain crazy mothers whose daughters despair of them in my current novel, The OMG! Blog.

And in that same vein, here are my suggestions for books that feature memorable (for differing reasons!) mother and daughter relationships…

Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan

I’m so busy writing that I don’t get to read as many books as I’d like to, which means that whenever I do school visits, I always ask for recommendations. What I’ve heard back – time and time again lately – is, 'Ooh, Apple and Rain!'. Obviously, with that much buzz I quickly nabbed myself a copy – and fell big time for this bittersweet story of a girl and the mother who abandoned her. Therefore I am more than happy to play pass-the-parcel with this recommendation. Here… catch!

Hetty Feather by Jacqueline Wilson

Of course there’s the heartfelt Illustrated Mum, but for sentimental reasons*, I’m opting for Hetty Feather because of the brusque-but-loving relationship Hetty has first with foster mother Peg, and also the heart-breaking moment when she finds out who her birth mother actually is (Relax; no spoilers here).

* It’s the last book I read together with my daughter before she became an independent reader, ie kicked me out of her bedroom. #sniffle

The Secrets of Sam and Sam by Susie Day

A spin-off from Susie’s charming Pea series of books, this standalone novel features twins Sam(mie) and Sam, and not one but two mums. Feisty Sam(mie) is constantly trying to prove that she’s the ‘best’ twin, but sadly, her borderline bonkers mums don’t seem to notice! I love how Susie Day features same-sex parents with little fuss and a lot of warmth. Which is exactly how it should be.

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

On the surface, it’s Laura’s love for her strong, characterful Pa that you’re aware of throughout the autobiographical Little House on the Prairie series (which I’ve devoured countless times over the years). But it’s always the quiet, underlying affection and devotion between headstrong Laura and her gentle but none-the-less strong Ma that I’ve found most affecting. And who couldn’t fail to admire a woman who brings her girls up with manners and sweetness in the forbidding and often hostile American West of pioneering times? Go, Ma! Go, Ma!

Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers

Told in note form throughout – by a mother and daughter both so busy with their lives it’s the only way they can communicate – this slight-but-powerful novel slips from can-I-have-some-pocket-money fluffiness to something darker and infinitely more moving very quickly… Warning: read with tissues by your side.

Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

Deep in rural Russia lives Feodora and her mother Marina – a Wolf Wilder who is teaching her daughter how to help tamed creatures learn to fend for themselves. This intertwined-twosome live cut off from most humans… till the Russian Revolution rolls right up to their door and steals Marina away from her daughter. A fantasy-tinged historical adventure with the most mesmerising mother and daughter bond.

Sundae Girl by Cathy Cassidy

Jude’s family are a whole bundle of crazy, but more worryingly, her mother is a borderline alcoholic. Everything comes to a head the weekend Dad is about to remarry… Cathy approaches a tricky mum and daughter relationship with care and thought, but balances it with fun and brightness.

Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy

Alice is all grown-up, but her secret is the darkest – she murdered a friend when they were both children. As the story unfolds we see how Alice’s life was ruined by the sort of mother who’ll give you nightmares. This harrowing YA story is told without sensation and is completely, completely gripping. And a little bit scary. #eek

Flightsend by Linda Newberry

After a family tragedy, mum Kathy decides to leave everything behind and lick her wounds deep in the countryside, at hideaway Flightsend Cottage. Teenage daughter Charlie, suffering from her own loss but completely confused by her mother’s actions, has no choice but to go. A dreamy, moving, coming-of-age story that’s a curl-up-on-the-bed-on-a-Sunday-morning read. Or in my case, a stretch-out-in-your-bath-until-the-water-gets-chilly read.

Karen McCombie's The OMG! Blog is a warm and funny tale about four teenage girls whose mothers push them too far! The book will definitely appeal to any social media loving teen, and it's out now, published by Barrington Stoke.

For more fantastic book recommendations, check out our book lists for all ages!

Karen McCombie

Best-selling author Karen McCombie is proudly Scottish but lives very happily in North London with her husband, teenage daughter and demented cat. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her wandering around Alexandra Palace Park, forcing friends to have coffee and talk to her, and warning passersby-by NOT to stoke her bitey cat. Find out more about Karen at her website.

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